8 Bank Referral Programs That Drive Conversions and Increase Loyalty

bank referral programs

Thanks to the convenience of online banking, it’s never been easier to find a financial institution that works for your specific needs.

It’s surprising, then, that the average lifespan of a checking account is about 17 years – and this institutional loyalty remains true across generations of consumers, including Gen Z.

One powerful way banks can entice new customers to swap financial providers is to launch a rock-solid referral program. Referrals work because 93% of consumers are more likely to trust a personal recommendation over slick marketing tactics. Referral programs tap into that word-of-mouth power, letting existing customers share their loyalty to your company with their friends and family.

We’re breaking down eight successful bank referral programs to show you how to grow your customer base using referrals.

1. Discover

Discover is a global financial services company offering reward credit cards and online banking.

Source: Discover.com

Its refer-a-friend program offers account holders the opportunity to earn statement credits for each friend’s new account.

For each new account opened, both parties earn a statement credit of $50 to $100. For existing customers, the credit applies during the next billing cycle. For new customers, the credit applies after three months.

Why Discover’s Referral Program Works

Discover’s program is successful because the company has a great reputation as one of the best banks in the game, thanks to its outstanding customer service. Plus, both parties get something substantial out of a referral.

The referral program landing page is also clear and informative. It offers easy-to-follow guidelines for the referral program, telling existing customers how the referral program works, and features testimonials from happy customers to reassure people that Discover provides a great experience.

2. Broadway Bank

Broadway Bank is a Texas financial institution that offers loans, savings and checking accounts, and credit cards.

Bank Referral Program Example

Source: BroadwayBank.com

With its referral program, you give $50 and get $50 – up to $500 per year. If you refer a friend who’s an existing customer and they open a checking account, you both receive $50.

Why Broadway Bank’s Referral Program Works

Broadway Bank’s program is the most common kind of bank referral program – an existing customer refers a friend or family member to take advantage of a product or service, and both parties receive an incentive.

For this kind of program to work, the customer banking experience has to be out of this world, the incentive has to be significant enough for people to remember, and the program can’t be too complicated or demanding.

Broadway Bank hits all three marks, especially since it tells you the annual rewards cap upfront. And since there’s an incentive for both parties, referring customers doesn’t feel like you’re making a sales call.

3. UMB Bank

UMB Bank is a subsidiary of UMB Financial Corporation, an FDIC-insured American banking company.

Bank Referral Program Example

Source: UMB.com

When a referred person opens a checking account, the original customer receives $200, and the person they referred receives $150.

Why UMB Bank’s Referral Program Works

UMB’s bank referral program is effective because it has a simple landing page that clearly tells its users how to share the bank’s products.

It opens with a snappy headline to capture the reader’s attention: “You’ve got 471 Facebook friends. You do the math.” This kind of messaging gets straight to the point, letting customers know to share their banking experiences on social media for maximum rewards.

One thing UMB does differently is that it gives more to one party than the other. This makes sense when you consider incentives play a big part in a referral program’s success.

To some customers, receiving $50 more than a friend could feel like they’re cheating their friends. But since both rewards are one of the highest on our list – $200 for existing customers and $150 for referrals – longtime customers could see that extra cash as a bonus for being a loyal customer.


HSBC is a global financial services holding company headquartered in London.

Source: us.HSBC.com

Existing customers with an HSBC Premier checking account can earn big by introducing friends and family to HSBC. An existing customer earns $300 for each qualifying referral, up to $6,000 per calendar year – the highest reward offering on our list! Plus, their referred friend earns a one-time bonus of up to $1,000.

Why HSBC’s Referral Program Works

The caveat to HSBC’s refer-a-friend program is that the referred customer must open an HSBC Premier checking account – no other account type qualifies. A Premier checking account comes with a $50 monthly fee unless you meet certain criteria, but you get unique perks not seen in typical checking accounts, like global transfers and access to a relationship manager.

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5. Chase

Chase Bank is a national bank headquartered in New York City.

Source: Chase.com

Chase offers multiple referral programs for its different credit cards, savings, and personal checking accounts, but most of its programs are points-based like the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card.

Why Chase’s Referral Program Works

Many banks offer customers a points-based system for using their credit cards in lieu of cash bonuses. You’ve likely come across this yourself, earning points on transactions that can be exchanged for certain rewards, like cash back or gift cards to stores.

Chase applies this same logic to its Sapphire Preferred referral program.

With its credit card, you earn points each time you use your card – and each time you refer a friend or family member. When you get someone to sign up, you receive 15,000 points, up to 75,000 per year. Generally, 15,000 points equates to about $160.50, which is on par with other programs on the list.

Credit card point systems work by tapping into our brains’ psychological need for rewards. When someone is presented with a major figure, like 15,000 points, they automatically think they’re getting more of something. That’s why, instead of saying, “Refer a friend to get $160.50,” Chase says, “get 15,000 bonus points for each friend who gets approved.”

What makes Chase stand out is the additional boost you get with one of its wide variety of rewards-based cards. Several of these cards offer specialty points that can be redeemed with major brands like Amazon, Marriott, Southwest, and Disney, to name a few. Each card has its own referral program, too, with some cards offering a statement credit and others, like the Sapphire Preferred card, offering points.

6. Charles Schwab

Charles Schwab is a financial corporation known for its range of brokerage and retirement services.

Source: Schwab.com

When a referred friend or family member of an existing customer opens a Charles Schwab account and deposits money into it, the referred person can get up to $1,000.

Why Schwab’s Referral Program Works

This program works for Charles Schwab because people are already willing to promote the bank, as indicated by its above-average Net Promoter Score.

One reason that the program works is that only one party gets an incentive – the new customer. Customers often hesitate when advocating for a product or service because it feels like they’re selling something, and selling to our friends feels manipulative.

With the right audience – in this case, Schwab targets investors – eliminating the referral bonus on the existing customer’s end makes it easier for customers to feel good about sharing your program.

7. SkyOne Federal Credit Union

SkyOne Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit credit union offering a full range of financial services, including financing options, checking and savings accounts, and ATM services.

Source: SkyOne.org

When a new customer uses a referral link to open a new account, they earn a $25 Amazon gift card. If their account remains in good standing after 30 days, the referring customer also earns a $25 Amazon gift card – up to $500 per calendar year.

Why SkyOne’s Referral Program Works

A major goal of any referral program is to bring in new high-quality leads. SkyOne built this program during the pandemic when the in-person sales and event opportunities it usually relied on weren’t available. This referral program helped the company to continue personalizing the outreach experience remotely.

Clearly, the gamble to go fully online paid off. Since launching its referral program, SkyOne has seen a 91% increase in account acquisition and 85% higher conversion rates than in pre-pandemic times.

8. GO2bank

GO2bank is a digital banking company that allows customers to easily manage their money from their smart device.

Source: GO2bank.com

Customers earn $50 for each friend who opens a new bank account with direct deposit. Once the direct deposit is successful, that friend also receives $50. The referring customer can make up to $1,500 per calendar year.

Why GO2bank’s Referral Program Works

As a growing fintech company, GO2bank needed a way to pull in as many new potential customers as possible. Since it already had a strong customer base, the company knew all it needed to gain new strong leads was to launch a referral program.

Grow Your Customer Base and Build Your Reputation with a Bank Referral Program

The key to making your bank referral program work is to find out what incentives your customers will respond to and what will entice them to keep referring their friends and family to your company.

A growth marketing tool like Extole helps you leverage first-party data in order to gain deep insights into the people who already interact with your brand. Plus, we adhere to the highest security and compliance standards to keep your banking customers’ information protected.

Find out how Extole can help your bank manage a customer-led referral program.

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